Kashmiri administration signs pact with Dubai for infrastructure development
As fear grew in Kashmir after 13 civilians were killed in October, life has slowed down, especially work on infrastructure projects. However, undeterred by the recent deaths of civilians and migrant workers, the administration of Jammu and Kashmir has signed a pact with the government of Dubai for the development of various projects in the region.
Kashmir Trade and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal said in a recent statement that by signing the MoU with the government of Dubai, Jammu and Kashmir demonstrated the pace at which it is making progress on the way of development.
“This MoU sends a strong signal to the whole world on how India is transforming into a global power – Jammu and Kashmir is playing an important role in it as well,” Goyal said in a written statement.
According to the administration of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Dubai will create an infrastructure in the conflict-affected Kashmir region that would include industrial parks, computer towers, a multi-purpose building, logistics centers, a medical school and a specialized hospital. .
Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Chairman and CEO of DP World, Dubai, said: “We are committed to bridging the gap between Jammu and Kashmir and the rest of India. We know how to do it and how to overcome challenges.
Although details of the deal were not disclosed, Sulayem said his company’s investments will be part of the Modi government’s Made in India campaign.
This will be the first investment deal with the UAE, especially after the Indian government unilaterally removed Kashmir’s semi-special status in August 2019.
The timing of the investment and the MoU surprised many in Kashmir. Tariq Rashid Ghani, General Secretary of the Hoteliers Club, sees the signing of a pact between the two governments as a positive development.
“Not only will this improve infrastructure, but it will boost the influx of international tourism to the region,” Ghani told VOA.
According to data published by the Center for Monitoring Indian Economy – an independent think tank and business information company – the unemployment rate in Jammu and Kashmir fell from over 13% in August to 21.6% in September.
In the context of a high unemployment rate, Ghani stressed the need to involve the inhabitants in these development projects in order to generate employment opportunities for local youth.
According to the Jammu and Kashmir Department of Finance, 9,514 physical projects were carried out at a cost of approximately $ 520 million in 2020-2021.
Mehraj Gulzar, former president of the Information and Communications Technology Association, said: “I see this as a political statement rather than an economic one. The local economy is shattered and creating infrastructure without an ecosystem will be of no use to local entrepreneurs. It will be interesting to watch how much this can help improve our economy.
“As far as the conflict is concerned,” Gulzar added, “I believe that the signing of a memorandum of understanding with the Indian government to invest in Kashmir legitimizes the Indian position on Kashmir, which is a great victory for the country. ‘India and indicates the views of the international community as well as the Islamic world towards the Kashmir conflict. ”
After 11 years, Go First, an Indian low cost airline, became the first to resume direct flights between Srinagar and Sharjah. Indian Union Minister of Interior Amit Shah celebrated the first international Srinagar-Sharjah flight on 23 October in the presence of Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir Manoj Sinha. Air India Express launched a weekly service from Srinagar to Dubai in February 2009, but it was discontinued due to low demand.
A local entrepreneur who ventured into infrastructure development, Irfan Mushtaq, told VOA that there were two parallel things that recently emerged: direct flights to the United Arab Emirates and the pact between Dubai and the Cashmere.
“This will give some boost to the local economy as well as job creation. However, sustaining such initiatives is a huge challenge in Kashmir,” Mushtaq said.
Latif A Bhat, president of the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told VOA this part of the world has been in turmoil for a long time and these types of MOUs could be based more on politics than opportunity. real growth. He noted that genuine investors normally avoid troubled areas because it is so difficult to make a profit. The most important industry for this region could be the development of medical tourism by local investors.
“Our experience is that the normal industry has mostly fallen ill in the valley, being an isolated area and no electricity available to run such an industry here. Natural beauty is available in abundance, which must be preserved and developed taking into account The only industry that can provide jobs and energy to the economy may be tourism, which suffered during the period of unrest, ”Bhat said.
India is seeking a closer trade relationship to help restore its economy, especially after a deadly second wave of the virus earlier this year. Before the outbreak, the country was the UAE’s second-largest trading partner, with around $ 40 billion in non-oil trade.
During a recent visit to New Delhi for meetings with Indian Trade Minister Goyal, United Arab Emirates Minister of State for Foreign Trade Thani Al Zeyoudi said the two governments were preparing to start talks. talks on an economic partnership to boost trade, investment and jobs.
Bilateral trade could reach $ 100 billion in five years after signing the treaty, according to the UAE, and Goyal said that figure could be reached.
The Indian Ministry of Commerce and Industry government did not respond to VOA’s email requesting comment.
Last week the India-UAE-Israel Economic Summit was jointly hosted by India and Israel to discuss prospects for collaboration on trilateral initiatives. The summit, which attracted more than 250 participants from the three countries, including business leaders, government officials and experts, discussed strategies to maximize opportunities for trilateral trade and investment.
The event, according to Aman Puri, Indian Consul General in Dubai, provided a significant boost to collaboration in the public and private sectors for the three countries.